How to Make Recessed Lighting Energy Efficient

Last Updated on April 2, 2020 by The Tutor

5 tips On How to Make Recessed Lighting Energy Efficient

Recessed lighting can be extremely energy efficient if you take the appropriate measures and steps to reduce energy waste. I put together 5 tips on how to make recessed lighting energy efficient. This is very easy to and a great DIY lighting project for any homeowner.

The energy saving recessed lighting tips below do not all have to be done together. Making just one or two changes here will save money and energy over time. If you are able to do all 5 then even better.

5 Tips on How to Make Recessed Lighting Energy Efficient

  1. Put your recessed lights on a dimmer
  2. Replace existing lights with energy saving LED bulbs
  3. Use ENERGY STAR® certified bulbs and fixtures
  4. Replace with light fixtures that are air tight
  5. Insulate recessed lighting cans that are exposed to the attic

Put Your Recessed Lights on a Dimmer

If you are planning to install recessed lighting in your home, then adding a dimmer should be something that is on your to-do list. Even if you have existing recessed lights in your home, simply adding a dimmer will save energy. With a dimmer, most people will not keep the lights blaring at their full brightness. Any dimming will reduce the energy output and will save you money. This is a great tip on how to make recessed lighting energy efficient.

The other benefit is that a dimmer will change the look and feel of your room. There are times when you just need less light. Maybe you are watching a movie in your family room and you do not want it to be completely dark, but you also do not want to have it so bright that you are in a football stadium. Dimming has so many advantages.

Replace Existing Lights with Energy Saving LED Bulbs

If you read through some of the older pages on the internet, you will see people recommending fluorescent bulbs (CFL). Times have obviously changed now and LED bulbs are the most efficient and use the least energy. They also run cooler which means you will save on energy to cool your home in the summer.

Traditional incandescent bulbs would use anywhere from 60-100 watts per bulb depending upon your recessed lighting application. If you have 6 lights in the room, that is 360 watts going all at once. The fluorescent bulbs are about 25 watts each and here you would be burning a total of 150 watts with 6 bulbs. The new energy efficient LED bulbs use about 7 watts which means you can light your entire room with just 42 watts.

LED bulbs and fixtures are not cheap, but over time they will save you a ton of money. Not only will you save on the energy that you use every month, but they also last longer. Years ago, I switched to fluorescent and thought it was a good thing. I had so many of those bulbs burn out though and ended up wasting more money replacing bulbs. So, what did I actually save? Everything in my home is LED right now. Keep your eye out for special deals on LED bulbs. There are sales and I will post some deals here as well. Changing to LED bulbs is how to make recessed lighting energy efficient.

Use ENERGY STAR® Certified Bulbs and Fixtures

Wherever possible, I recommend switching to ENERGY STAR® certified products. They will help you to save money on your energy bulls and also helps to protect the environment by reducing CO2 emissions. When you purchase products, they will be clearly marked as Energy Star certified if they qualify. When you are installing things like hot water heaters that are ENERGY STAR® certified, you may even get a rebate or a tax break.

One ENERGY STAR® certified LED bulb can save $6-$7 per year in energy costs. It will use up to 80% less energy and will last up to 30 times longer than a traditional incandescent bulb with the same light output.  So, they use 80% less energy and yield the same light output. You can review the ENERGY STAR light bulb saving calculator and key in your bulb information to determine how much you can save in energy. Just a word of warning, the spreadsheet is a bit of an eye chart.

Replace with Light Fixtures that Are Air Tight

If you are replacing or adding new recessed lighting fixtures, then try to get the ones that are air tight. Many of the recessed lighting cans leak air. They have holes on the top as you can see below. This is a place where a lot of energy is lost into your attic. I recently went into my attic in the winter and noticed that if felt a little warm up there. A huge red flag that I am losing energy so I will be checking my recessed lighting cans.

Insulate Recessed Lighting Cans that Are Exposed to the Attic

You may already have recessed lighting cans installed and do not want to replace what you have due to the cost and time it will take to rewire the new ones. That is fine, and you can insulate your existing cans. You can find recessed lighting insulation covers online. However, in my opinion the good ones are extremely expensive, and the cheap ones are garbage.

You can also get insulation bats from your local home improvement store and wrap the cans in the attic with it. This will provide you with something better than having nothing at all.

My recommendation is to use spray foam insulation like “great stuff” and fill any of the holes and gaps in the cans up in the attic. This will be the best, the easiest and the cheapest alternative. If you are unable to get into the attic, then simply remove the recessed lighting fixture from inside of the room. Then, look for any holes and gaps and then fill them from the inside.

My second best option is to use silver backed foil tape. This is not the traditional duct tape that most people have at home. This is truly meant for actual duct work. Extremely tough, easy to work with and sticks forever. You can find them here on Amazon Foil Backed Tape

The bottom line is that insulation is an important tip how to make recessed lighting energy efficient.

Related Questions

What is energy star certified?
The energy star certification means that the product meets the energy efficiency standards that are set by the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency).

What is the energy star calculator?
It is a calculator that helps to determine what the energy savings is when switching to energy efficient products such as LED bulbs. The calculator is linked above.

How much money will I save by switching to LED bulbs?
The energy savings is significant and can be up to an 80% savings versus a traditional incandescent bulb. The additional savings you will realize is when you do not have to replace the LED bulbs as often as incandescent or fluorescent.

Will recessed lighting add value to my home?
Recessed lighting absolutely can add value to your home if you plan it out strategically and use the right temperature lights.

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